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Lagos offers free health insurance coverage to 230,000 indigents

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The Lagos State government yesterday disclosed that over 230,000 indigents and vulnerable residents of the State, spread across the 57 local government and local council development areas are currently benefitting from free health insurance coverage sponsored by the State Government through the Eko Social Health Alliance (EkoSHA).

Disclosing this at the media launch of the Eko Social Health Alliance (EkoSHA) the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi explained that EkoSHA, an initiative of the Lagos State State Government coordinated through the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), is an alliance of private institutions, public institutions, development and multilateral partners and individuals seeking the good of all residents of Lagos.

The plan will also cover members of elderly and orphanage homes, vulnerable persons living with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Sickle cell Anaemia, and victims of domestic and sexual violence in Lagos.

He said: “The initiative is designed to mobilize adequate funds to help the identified vulnerable residents of Lagos state access the health insurance through the Ilera Eko Social Health Plan under the Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS).

EkoSHA will also provide access to social welfare empowerment programs so that beneficiaries do not only have health insurance but are provided opportunity and support that will gradually lift them out of poverty”.

Abayomi who was represented by the Director, Medical Administration, Training and Programs in the State Ministry of Health, Dr. Funmilayo Shokunbi further explained that the alliance, in addition to mobilising more funds to help the identified vulnerable Lagos state residents access health insurance, will also collaborate with different departments and agencies engaged in social welfare empowerment and poverty alleviation programs so that beneficiaries do not only have health insurance but are provided opportunity to enhance their ability to attain sustainable livelihood.

“EKOSHA will collaborate with Social Welfare and Empowerment MDAs/ Organisations to provide a means of livelihood for these beneficiaries such that they do not remain dependent and can eventually afford to pay health insurance premiums for themselves,” he said.

Abayomi noted that the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu graciously approved 1 percent of the State’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as equity fund to pay for residents who cannot afford to pay health insurance for themselves in order to ensure that Lagos State residents, including its vulnerable population, have access to the state health scheme.

The Commissioner disclosed that since the commencement of access to care for the vulnerable residents on the ILERA EKO Social Health Plan in 2020, a total of N750 million has been disbursed as equity fund in addition to the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), and sponsorships from a few individuals and organizations; to provide health insurance for the vulnerable residents of the State.

Speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Olusegun Ogboye who was represented by the Director, Diseases Control, Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite noted that the objective of the EkoSHA initiative is anchored on mobilizing additional funds through a strategic alliance with suitable financial institutions leveraging on a crowdfunding financing model to provide more funding options for the health care of the vulnerable residents of Lagos.

According to him, other objective of the initiative include, urging funding partners and facilitators like banks, local and international donor agencies, corporate bodies, religious organizations, NGOs and high net worth individuals register for the adoption of vulnerable residents by paying premiums for their healthcare coverage and providing social safety net for beneficiaries through access to the state’s numerous empowerment programs.

General Manager, LASHMA, Dr. Emannuella Zamba in her remarks assured that the agency remains committed to ensure that equal opportunity is given to those who cannot afford to pay the ILERA EKO premium in line with Section 20 of the LSHS Law, which stipulates that the Agency should ensure the availability of alternative sources of funding to the health sector for improved services.

“Let me buttress that EkoSHA was formed to increase vulnerable coverage on the Lagos State Health Scheme to complement Government effort and resources as well as collaborate with Lagos State MDAs and organizations in charge of skill acquisitions, social welfare and empowerment programmes so that apart from enjoying ILERA EKO, they can equally acquire skills, stand on their own and become employers of labor. This, of course, will go a long way in making life meaningful to the vulnerable and indigents in our society”, She said.

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